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Meet Linda Eales of Harvest Eco-Salvage in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Eales.

Linda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In my first career of 42 years, I was fortunate enough to find success as a luxury home architect and general contractor. However, I also found that there is a tremendous waste in the building industry. The waste is especially evident with the remodeling process where usable goods are thrown away and replaced with newer, more fashionable materials. The idea for forming a Non-Profit to capture those materials destined for the landfill was born after hearing an ad for people to donate cars to a local charity. I did a lot of research and self-education of the tax code. paid for a lot of accounting and legal advice to vet my research and hence my first venture into the world of large-scale, non-cash donation was launched with the creation of The Eco-Logic Foundation in 1999.

The Eco-Logic Foundation ran successfully in the Phoenix metro area until 2012 when it became another victim of the local economic turn-down. Now in 2017 and looking at retirement from architecture but finding myself not ready to retire, I decided to regroup and re-launch the mission of keeping usable building materials out of our landfills and back to work in our community. Harvest Eco-Salvage was chartered by the IRS in June 2017 with the added benefit of years of experience and the sterling reputation of The Eco-Logic Foundation at our back.

One of my goals is to educate the construction and real estate world as well as the general public that buildings set for demolition are not garbage. Our process keeps millions of pounds of construction materials out of our landfills and back to work in our community. All of our experienced sub-contractors are licensed and insured and they, in turn, provide jobs in our community. Once our donors are aware of our program they are happy that the buildings they donate to us are not just thrown away and treated as trash. The cherry-on-top is the sizable tax deduction our donors receive for doing the right thing and participating in our win-win program.
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The Non-Cash Charitable Donation our donors receive is based upon a specialized, IRS approved, real estate appraisal of the value of those structures separated from the land value resulting in our granting millions of dollars in donations annually. The readily usable materials that we glean from these buildings is given, free of charge, to other local Non-Profits which allows their budgets to stretch further and their scope of projects increase. All of the remaining structure that can be reasonably recycled is recycled, metals are reclaimed, concrete and masonry is crushed into man-made gravel and asphalt are reduced to granular beads for use in many roadway applications. We are always looking to expand our resources and our knowledge in the efforts to reduce construction waste.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Having built houses for many years you would think taking them apart would be a no-brainer, but taking them apart is more complicated than building them in the first place. Here are some of the things I have learned:
1. Nothing comes out of a house/building like it went in. Materials don’t come out in neat shapes, nobody kept the boxes they came in and used building materials do not stack well. Never underestimate how much damage a broken water pipe can do or assume the power is off everywhere in the structure.

2. Everybody builds everyday things in a different way, each installer has their own layout pattern, their preferred fasteners and often they have to punt with whatever is in their toolbox to get a job finished. In order to successfully deconstruct, our crews have to be patient and start with flashlights and deductive reasoning, not crowbars.

3. There is a massive amount of stuff that comes out of these projects and they all need a new place to call home NOW, not sitting in a warehouse where they do no one any good. Vetting recipients and scheduling deliveries is a full-time job.

4. All of our crews are trained to respect the project and all of the lives lived and memories made in that building and the neighborhood. We are on site to prevent trash so we work to not make trash or leave our sites disorderly or dirty. Not only is that the right way to conduct business but neighbors appreciate our courtesy and respect for their changing neighborhood.

5. Paperwork and inventory placement records are crucial to protecting our donors and our reputation. Days on the job site are no less important than days in the office.

6. Our entire staff has had years of experience in construction and we are all invigorated and excited to be able to put that knowledge to work in new ways in order to achieve our mission to re-purpose these usable materials.

Please tell us about Harvest Eco-Salvage.
What sets us apart is how we approach business as a Non-Profit. As a lifelong entrepreneur and self-employed professional, I took a new approach as to how to operate as a Non-Profit. Historically Non-Profits depend upon volunteers, grants, and donations to operate and historically all of those things are seasonal, iffy and require a tremendous amount of time. Harvest Eco-Salvage is a self-supporting organization, we pay our own way through the costs of deconstruction, paid by our donors, to do our work and fulfill our mission. Our donors have to pay someone to remove these structures, working with us has better benefits and even though it is more expensive to deconstruct rather than just demolish, our donors realize it is also the right thing to do. The business partnerships and friendships that have been created with our donors has been no less than amazing and extremely fulfilling.

We have recently partnered with our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores to take over their referrals for large demolition projects. They need the goods for their stores but the large jobs overwhelm their volunteer staff and as they are not chartered by the IRS like we are, they can only offer thrift store receipts to their donors. We all want and need donors to be happy and keep donating, our partnership is a win-win for everyone.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I decided to resurrect The Eco-Logic Foundation and to create a refined version of it as Harvest Eco-Salvage because the initial idea was a good idea and that same idea was again viable in today’s market. In creating Harvest Eco-Salvage I was able to take the lessons from Eco-Logic and make Harvest a stronger, more efficient business model. I believe there is always room for change and growth and when you stop examining how you do business you start to fade and lose your competitive edge.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 8603 E. Royal Palm Road, Suite 230
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
  • Website: www.HarvestEcoSalvage.org
  • Phone: 480-948-6590
  • Email: staff@HarvestEcoSalvage.org

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